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2016 sees a fourth successive win for the brokerage, despite the retirement of principal and industry legend Wendy Higgins 

This will be the fourth year in a row that Mortgage Choice Glenelg has been Australia’s No. 1 Franchise Brokerage. This year, however, one key person won’t be there to receive the trophy. After countless Top 100 and Australian Mortgage Awards, industry veteran Wendy Higgins is retiring from the business, after gradually pulling back in recent years. From July, ownership will transfer to Keith Caine, who MPA spoke to in order to learn more about a business model that continues to deliver.

According According to Caine, the brokerage’s success is relatively simple: “we do have a model that works, because ultimately it’s a team eff ort; we all know what areas we perform well in and we focus on that. Staff  in the business working on what they’re best at – that’s really the recipe for success in this business”. The brokerage has staff  working in almost all areas, Caine says, and a client base to match. While they’re restricted to advertising in certain areas, their longevity – Higgins purchased the franchise in 1998 – means they now have clients from all over.

So far so good: many excellent brokerages have both a strong team and a wide range of expertise. However, Mortgage Choice Glenelg’s team spirit is the sort that can only be built over time, and with an unusual remuneration structure. “We never have turnover,” explains Caine. “The most recent staff  member that we recruited was back in March, when Wendy retired; we brought someone in to fi ll in for Wendy. Prior to that, the most recent staff  member was me, and that was several years ago. We’ve got Julie [Mahony], who’s been here for 16 years, Rea [Magill], who’s been here for eight, and myself, who’s been here for seven.”

The stability of the brokerage has advantages in terms of leads and staff  morale, Caine believes. “Repeat business is huge, but more so from a staff  perspective they see this as their own business … they’re not micromanaged; they run their own businesses, and they know what they need to do for this business to be successful, and I leave them to do that.” 

Furthermore, brokers at Mortgage Choice Glenelg are salaried, rather than being on commission. “I don’t believe the commission model works for this type of business, for the staff  we have here,” says Caine. “With the longevity that we’ve got, they’re incentivised by the success of the business, not by the money in their pockets. We feel like we’re a family; it’s a team environment here, and we want this business to be successful, so the most important part for the business is the people we employ.”

Additionally, as the brokers are on salaries, fi les can be transferred between them more easily, further building trust, Caine explains. Unsurprisingly, they are not planning to hire anyone this year. 

Looking ahead, Caine will be reviewing the brokerage’s very extensive range of sponsorships. With a huge number of referrals and repeat business, maintaining their current level of marketing may not be necessary, he suggests. “Our sponsorship program is up for review; it’s not been as successful as it has been in the past because our brand is so big in this area,” Caine says. However, he will be continuing relationships with certain local sports clubs: “we know and like the people who run the clubs, and we like helping the clubs, because they are a part of the community we’re in”. While the statistics of Adelaide’s housing market are relatively stagnant, Caine says with high auction rates and low time on the market it’s still a great time to be a broker. 

Caine’s main challenge will be managing morale, he admits. “It’s about making sure our staff  are incentivised to succeed, everybody’s happy, and we maintain the level of customer service … that’s the main focus of the business and one of the reasons we’ve been so successful.” 
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